New York State adopted its budget this week, and, predictably, the level of enthusiasm for its contents varied depending on political perspective. The New York State Executive Chamber extolled the virtues of having come “together as New Yorkers, Democrats and Republicans alike, to make our state stronger, safer and fairer now and for years to come. “Governor Cuomo’s representatives pointed to the raising of the minimum wage to $15, the implementing of 12 week paid family leave, holding growth in state spending to the 2% cap, massive amounts of school aid and expanded funding for infrastructure improvements.
On the other side of the coin, the Business Council of Westchester, represented by Executive VP John Ravitz, felt that “the Governor and leaders of the Senate and Assembly resorted to an all too familiar pattern. The final negotiations were held through the night, behind closed doors with virtually no public transparency and no opportunity for legislators to review it.” Ravitz claimed success in that the minimum wage increase will not be “in a one-shot manner as originally proposed” and that the BCW “played an important role in slowing down the implementation which in Westchester will take place over five-years. Further, if the economy weakens, the increases will be curtailed.” Putnam County is somewhat fortunate in being realistically considered an “upstate” county and will be included in the $12.50 minimum wage mandate for our area.
Ravitz also mentioned the BCW’s advocacy in obtaining “increased funding for infrastructure repairs that is provided in the new budget. It is critically important in attracting and retaining businesses that our roads, bridges and mass transit are well-maintained and safe. The funding in the budget for infrastructure is a step in the right direction.” This seems to be a very good idea – New York State’s infrastructure is a mess, and desperately needs attention. On balance, I would conclude that this is an imperfect budget, which may well hurt many of our businesses, but the compromise was deemed the best possible by those involved.
– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce